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Austin YouTuber trades a penny into a house, then donates it to local artist

It took nearly a month, but Ryan Trahan started with a penny and traded until he got a house. But the house wasn't for him to keep.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin housing market has not been the easiest to crack into, so hearing that someone used just a penny to eventually get a house might sound a bit crazy. However, a lot can happen on South Congress Avenue and sometimes you might get more than you expected.

"So, I dropped out of college in 2018, and just started going crazy with it," said Ryan Trahan. 

Trahan is a YouTuber who lives here in Austin. What he did recently on South Congress might be one of those unexpected things.

"I am trying to trade this penny into a house," he said in a YouTube video released on Dec. 17. 

"I've had a lot of videos on my channel that are penny-related," explained Trahan. "I tried to turn a penny into $1,000 in high school. But this turning a penny into a house ... it's been the dumbest, most audacious idea I've had." 

His idea is a simple one: take a penny and constantly trade with people for something better until you get a house.

"Like walking around and asking people if they want to trade," Trahan said as he explained how he started.  

But at the end of the series of videos, Trahan isn't trying to keep the house. 

"I'm not doing this for myself, let me tell you who this house is for," he said in his video. 

Instead, he wants to give it to a local artist who started her own business: Hannah Alisa Co., making handmade clay earrings and also designing cups, a relatively simple company. It's why Trahan picked her out of all the people who applied to be a part of this process. 

"So I think it's a super relatable company," said Trahan. "People can be inspired by and that's why she's perfect for this, because at the end of the day, we're trying to inspire people to believe in themselves." 

Hannah started her company after she lost two separate jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But her "office" is getting a little more cramped as she creates more.

"So I would say this dining room table, the book shelf and the floor," she showed. "Up here is just so cramped."

The idea of a new house is a welcomed one.

"One day, my friend sent me the link of a video, and was like, 'Is this you?,' and I watched and was like, 'Oh, my God,'" she said. "It's been crazy to see him getting up to a tiny home." 

A tiny home was all Trahan had at the time he released his third video

But in the most recent one? He finally got a house. 

"So, the actual house is in Texarkana," said Ryan. 

It may not be the house Trahan was expecting to trade for, but he still got there. However, Trahan wanted to get Hannah and her husband a house they could actually live in. 

"Obviously, we're not going to give them a house in Texarkana, so basically the sponsor is Shopify and we're partnering with them, and we're getting them a house in Austin," Trahan explained.    

A house that Hannah and her husband couldn't have ever assumed they'd get.

"So we traded for the house we could, and hopefully on top of that they'll be able to see the house that we got them and hopefully it's amazing and they love it," Trahan said. 

Hannah and her husband will now have a home to grow her small business in, with its unexpected beginning on South Congress.

To see Ryan's videos, click here. To check out anything from Hannah's shop, you can click here


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